"Next year Mr. Stram will be on a concrete budget," says Mecom. "Anything he spends over that will have to come out of his own pocket. I had no idea it was going to be like this. I know what it's like going first class, but we've gone way beyond that." Plus, the boss grumps. Stram is going to have to get along better with the club's front office.
Mecom had one parting shot: "Let's don't paint a picture that we have any problems down here." Now, John, how could anyone get that impression?
So you always wanted to be a hockey player? Consider the cautionary tale of Doug Ferguson.
Ferguson was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1973 and was sent first to Richmond, then to the Philadelphia Firebirds of the North American Hockey League. After last season, Firebird Coach and General Manager Gregg Pilling heard the 23-year-old defenseman's plea for a $15,000 salary for 1976-77. Since Pilling thought Ferguson's talents were worth about $12,000, he sold Ferguson to the Maine Nordiques for $250.
Come summer, the NAHL had an intraleague draft, and Maine's general manager, Maurice Ducharme, did not include Ferguson among the 14 players he could protect. So Ferguson was drafted. By the Firebirds. Why? Says Pilling, "I like to have fun in my job, I knew Maine wanted him and I like to make money." Within five minutes after drafting Ferguson, Pilling rang up Ducharme. "You want Ferguson back?" he asked. "Sure," said Ducharme. And so Ducharme coughed up another $250. Why did Pilling do this to you, Mr. Ducharme? "Oh, for the money, I'm sure."
Now Maine has paid $250 twice for Ferguson, who has yet to lace his skates on behalf of the Nordiques. And how does Ferguson feel about all this? Fine, thanks, he's quitting. "Frankly," says the Barrie, Ontario man, who plans a new life this fall as a businessman, "I've had enough of pro hockey."
BE KIND TO SHARKS?
For people engaged in such a seemingly idyllic sport, fishermen certainly do find a lot to carp about. A current dispute is over techniques in sport fishing for sharks. Seems there is a school of thought that the shark ought to get a better break.
Because sharks don't exactly have an image as one of nature's nobler citizens, it's hard for most people to summon up much sympathy. But John Hearst Jr., in Motor Boating & Sailing magazine, writes, "People who have been fishing for sharks learn how stupid the animal is." So stupid, Hearst alleges, that the shark seldom even knows he has been hooked. "The dumb thing will follow a chum slick right up to the boat." At which time the shark is gaffed.